Dude, Where’s My Stuff?

I’m slightly concerned. Maybe concerned isn’t the right word. Intrigued might be better. I’m intrigued at my fascination with the TV show Hoarders. I can’t help it. Flip through the guide and I’ll invariably land on some 2009 episode of Hoarders. I can’t seem to tear myself away from their train wrecks of a life. How do you let yourself get to that point? I can understand clutter. Unable to climb into a room due to garbage and dead cats… uh, no. Don’t get it. Yes, I understand it’s a sickness and these folks need serious help.

Which brings me to my point. We recently had to give up ninety-five percent of our stuff. We walked away from our possessions six months ago and had no idea how we’d survive without it all. We had a 2,700 square foot house in an affluent neighborhood. Every room packed with what you’d expect in a house – dining room stuff, kitchen stuff, backyard stuff. Computers, gardening equipment, tools, sports paraphernalia, closets of clothes. More closets of clothes. Knick-knacks. A porcelain clown collection (don’t ask). We walked away from it all.

Here’s the shocker. I don’t miss it. If you had told me a couple of years ago that I’d have to go six months without one of my ten toolboxes, snow boots, or five pairs of jeans that I’m saving because I might fit into them again someday, I would have thought them certifiable. Crazy. How could I live without my stuff? But I have, and been perfectly happy.

I’d like to say that I found supreme enlightenment, embraced the green, hippy, crunchy granola movement. Unfortunately I’m a little

A Small Closet

more shallow than that. In reality we sold our house and packed everything up and put it in storage while our new house is under construction. We moved into a thirty-six foot motorhome in the meanwhile. Not exactly living in a tent, but space is significantly limited. We went from jam-packed closets to what can fit in a tiny space.

I’ve been surprised how satisfied I’ve been with what I brought with me. A handful of shirts, a few pairs of jeans, some shorts and a couple of pairs of shoes. I no longer even remember what other clothes I own. I was shocked at how liberating it is to be free of stuff. In our new, temporary, smaller space I’m even finding myself thinning out and throwing stuff away that we haven’t touched in a few weeks.

The level of consumerism that our society has become is a little frightening. Our economy is now built completely on people buying stuff. Sales, super-sized, bulk purchases from Costco, keeping up with the next door neighbors. It’s crazy. George Carlin had it right way back in 1981 with his bit on “a place for my stuff“. It’s so easy to get caught up in the frenzy of “I need”. How could you possibly expect me to survive without a new Starfrit Automatic Rotato Express Electric Peeler? Only $19.97 at Walmart. Please don’t tell me you’re doing the old fashioned manual way? Neanderthal.

The test of this new-found enlightenment will happen when we move into the new house. All our stuff will be there waiting for us. How will I react? Will I fall to my knees and thank the gods above that I have my stuff again? Or will I embrace my new-found, uncluttered self, and get rid of much of stuff we’ve acquired over years and years?

The twist, in part, is why we’re living in a motorhome in the first place. The “new” house is actually one hundred years old. A classic craftsman bungalow. We fell in love with it instantly. Well, except for the closets. How in the world did people live way back then with such tiny closets? Seriously, those closets were probably smaller than our motorhome’s closets. So, of course we did what anyone else faced with such a first-world problem would do. Let’s do a massive remodel and put in big walk-in closets!

Such is the way of the universe. We tired of our big, boring, track home. Bought a smaller, historical house with no closets for our stuff. Put all our stuff in storage so we can build bigger rooms for our stuff. Forced to live without our stuff for months. Really enjoying being minimalist. Now about to move back to the new, old, house with room for our stuff. My head hurts a little thinking about it.

I think I’ll go watch an episode of Hoarders. Then go throw something away.